Getting rid of those pesky MTNL Ads

In the NDTV app on Android
In the NDTV app on Android

That’s the article view that greeted me when I tried to read one of the news articles on the Android NDTV app. MTNL has been doing this for the last few weeks in Mumbai, and I’d noticed it earlier while browsing sites on my iPad, laptop and phones as well. I finally gave up and decided to block the IP serving these ads – 203.94.227.140 – at the router level itself so that I wouldn’t be bothered on any device.

In fact this doesn’t seem to be the first time MTNL has done this given Yogesh’s similar post from over a year ago which also contains instructions to block the ads in greater detail (maybe first time in Mumbai though). If you want detailed instructions, check out his post, and use the IP- 203.94.227.140, as his IP seems to be for MTNL Delhi. It is also possible that they start using other servers, so if you come across any MTNL ad, right click and check out the source server IP, and then add it to your router blocklist. In my case, I found the IP this way, and then enabled the firewall on my TP Link router and added a rule to block this IP (use add WAN host to add the IP).

TP Link router firewall
TP Link router firewall

If you check out the user posts on the MTNL Mumbai facebook page, you’ll find similar complains from other customers as well. Airtel drew its share of flak sometime ago for similar behaviour, but the MTNL shenanigans have gone almost unnoticed with hardly any mainstream coverage.

This is a very poor way to treat customers and it really gets in the way on mobile devices. Of course, this kind of injection only works on non secure sites only, so HTTPS sites like Google, facebook etc should be problem free. Here’s to hoping that MTNL stops being user hostile.

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I like it when…

…my bank sends me email notifications when it dispatches documents. However, I’d like it even more if they sent the alert before the document arrived at home.
Bank in question: HDFC

Reliance Mobile does it again

Last month I had written about the Reliance Mobile billing & notification system being broken wherein they do not send any notifications any more on exceeding the credit limit and just deactivate the outgoing call facility on the day the bill is generated. Well, they did it again today & in fact sent in the deactivation message earlier than last time (3:45 am). The script ran pretty much the same as last time, though I got fewer messages this time around.

At least the activation system is also equally prompt when you make the payment. Either way, they’re stuck with a broken system with no fix in sight. So much for effective CRM.

Reliance Mobile has it backwards

I have a Reliance CDMA post paid connection for which the bill gets generated around the 8th of each month. I have a Rs 500 credit limit & they used to send me an SMS when I used to get close to that limit. However, the incident of over the last day takes the cake:

  1. I get an SMS at 4:30 am saying that my outgoing call facility has been barred, without any warning whatsoever. This in spite of my paying the bills on time (in fact, I make payments in the excess to cushion against the credit limit).
  2. I log on to their site after waking up and make a payment of Rs 1000 against the bill amount of Rs 838 (incidentally Rs 837.53 that they conveniently round off as Rs 838 on their pdf bills) at 8:30 am.
  3. I am duly informed of my payment by SMS at 8:40 am (Thank goodness!).
  4. Another SMS at 8:50 am informs me that my outgoing call facility has been activated (Yippee!).
  5. However, at 9:50 am I get an SMS saying “your account usage is high. Pls pay Rs 873.53 to enjoy outgoing service.” (the amount adds up actually as it’s Rs 837.53 for the last bill plus Rs 36 unbilled usage that I had last checked on their site). I decide to ignore the SMS as I have already made a payment well over that amount.
  6. I finally get my bill for last month by email at 6:40 pm with an amount of Rs 838 due (Rs 837.53 thoughtfully round up in case I decide to pay by cheque… but wait, haven’t I already made the payment?).
  7. But the best part is when my phone rings at 9:30 pm & I hear an automated voice telling me that my usage is high and I need to pay Rs 873.53 to continue the outgoing service.

Somehow, someone, somewhere seems to have written down the design specs backwards or maybe it’s just me. I guess they have changed their support software/interface, or is that an “upgrade”.

P.S. The times have been rounded off to the nearest 10 minutes (not as conventional as the bill amounts unfortunately).